Dr. Grinspoon diplomatically comments on an article written in the New York Times by popular columnist David Brooks. Obviously there are still those who are uninformed and cling to old stigmas. Dr. Grinspoon continues to be a voice of reason offering engaging and relevant information on cannabis. Dr. Grinspoon is considered an expert in the field of cannabis science and has been writing on the topic for over forty years. It is worth noting that when he began his professional investigation of cannabis at Harvard, that his goal was to prove it’s negative effects.
David Brooks’ article really highlights the fact that many very smart people remain ignorant about the nature of cannabis.
The following is an excerpt from the article “Dr. Lester Grinspoon on David Brooks’ ‘Weed: Been There, Done That’”
Harvard Professor emeritus and author of Marihuana Reconsidered, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, responds to David Brooks’ New York Times anti-pot polemic.
Lester, how did you react to Brooks’ takedown of cannabis?
My overall impression is that David Brooks, who seems like a very smart man, is very much mistaken about what he thinks he knows about marijuana and out of date.
Let’s start at the top. He says that all of his friends gave it up after college, as if it’s indicative of some sort of emotional or psychological immaturity.
I think it’s true that most people who use it as young people do give it up in the course of their lives. I don’t think they give it up because it’s harmful. They give it up because they turn to other things, like getting married or having children, or having jobs with drug testing.
Brooks claims it’s addictive in 1 in 6 teenagers.
I don’t believe it is addictive, and there’s no evidence of it being so. You get addicted to things like alcohol, cigarettes or heroin and many opiate derivatives, but people do not become addicted to marijuana. There are people who use it all day long and that seems to me silly—you get the high in the morning but the rest of the day, there isn’t much. Nevertheless, it’s not an addiction because those people can give it up if they want to and will not suffer any withdrawal effects. Some may get a little irritable or depressed. That has nothing to do with withdrawal symptoms.
He claims that “smoking and driving is a good way to get killed.” Agree or disagree?
I am opposed to smoking and driving. Using any psychoactive drug, even one with a minor effect on reflexes is dangerous. However, unlike the stereotypical drunk driver who is speeding recklessly with one hand on the wheel and who isn’t in control of his car, the person who is high is usually in the right lane with both hands on the wheel and he’s going so slow he’s a pain in the neck. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t increased his risk—he might get distracted by a pretty scene on the road. However, I have to tell you there is far less danger to both the driver and other people from the stoned driver than the drunk driver.
He insists that young people who smoke “suffer IQ loss and perform worse on cognitive tests.”
Both of those statements are absolute nonsense. I’d like to see the data he finds convincing. I’ve been reading it for a long time now, and I find no data for either contention. A lot of those cognitive studies were compromised.
“it’s becoming increasingly understood that it is a very interesting and versatile medicine with much less toxicity than some of the pharmaceutical products it replaces.”